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Now, What?

“Am I about to spend my final years on this planet living in the America my parents struggled their entire lives to survive?” That was my first thought as I watched the Presidential election declared for Donald Trump, last November 9th. Is this what all of the blood, energy, prayers, struggle and triumphs of our forebears across four hundred years of wandering and living in this wilderness of North America - as the Honorable Elijah Muhammad once described these United States – have come to? The first African American to serve as President is now to be replaced by a man whose campaign has been characterized by racism, sexism, xenophobia, anti-immigration and homophobia? This man, this Donald Trump, lost the popular vote and actually received fewer votes than Mitt Romney in 2012, but still gained the White House by virtue of an eighteenth century invention called the Electoral College. Donald Trump asks that we come together as a nation. Give him a chance, he said. "Don't be afraid." But tens of thousands of Americans have been in the streets protesting his election every night since the last ballot was cast. He had a ninety-minute meeting with President Obama and a warm, friendly handshake afterwards. "Trust me," he declares. And then he names Steve Bannon as his chief White House strategist, a man with direct connections to American Nazi groups and white supremacist organizations; who as the top editor at Breitbart News, allowed articles and editorials that were filled with some of the strongest hate-filled language to be found this side of Senator Bilbo or Father Conklin of the 1930s. Our country, through struggle and through law, has long since rejected the very ideas a man like Bannon represents, so when the President-elect elevate him to a status that places him in center of the highest office in the land, what am I supposed to think? Roe v Wade, Gay Rights, Marriage Equality, Affirmative Action, Voting Rights, Obamacare, Equal Pay for Equal Work, Dodd-Frank and the Supreme Court - all could be gone by the end of 2018 at the latest. And it may take the rest of this century to get them back. What is to be done? Well, the election is over. No use wringing our hands. Instead, let us roll up our sleeves and press on in our strides toward freedom. We need to turn up our support of each other within our communities. We need to get behind organizations like Black Lives Matter, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the ACLU and any other organization dedicated to defending our rights as citizens. We need to do more volunteer work, tending to the youth, the sick and elderly. We need to work to build up our community institutions – our schools, our businesses and our families – every support network we have. Our fight is local, now. If each of us can work to protect the health of our communities and families, that act may very well be the best revolutionary action we can take. Richard Wesley, 15 November 2016

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